Bon Anniversaire, Vlado!

Happy Birthday Vlado

This is my early birthday gift to Vlado, who was born 23 November 1920. Above is a special birthday drawing from Vlado’s father, one of my favorites, showing the United Nations building rising above the clouds.

Much of my impression of Vlado comes from looking at photos, so I thought I should publish more of them, to show how much he loved life. Enjoy!

Vlado the Hero 1942
Vlado the Hero, circa 1942

Vlado in mountains 5
Mountain climbing is a nice diversion from studying law – get this poor kid in a suit some proper climbing gear!

Vlado in mountains 4
Vlado is serene in the Tatra mountains.

Vlado in mountains 3
Bearded in the mountains of New Zealand.

Vlado in mountains 2
Picking Narcissus is the Swiss Alps.

Vlado in mountains
On a hike with a bouquet of flowers!

Vlado dans la plage
Dans la plage avec un livre.

Vlado with monkey Ghana 1956
Making friends with monkeys in Ghana.

Vlado and Tatulo
On a cruise with Tatulo.

Vlado and Maminka 2

Vlado and Maminka
In the mountains with Maminka.

Vlado and Olinka
Taking a horse-drawn carriage ride with Olinka in the Czechoslovakian countryside.

Vlado UN 7
Vlado loved his work with the United Nations. Is this Major General Amin Hilmey II with Vlado?

Vlado UN 6

Vlado UN 5
I am still trying to figure out who the people are in these photos, but Vlado looks pretty happy to be there. This may have been in Gaza, having something to do with the UNEF.

Vlado UN 4

Vlado UN 3
At work at the United Nations in New York.

Vlado UN 2
Steamy in Indonesia.

Vlado UN
Taking the ‘bus’ in Egypt.

Vlado pret a manger 2
Eating was another great pleasure in life – here is Vlado enjoying a typically elegant Swiss breakfast in Geneva…

Vlado pret a manger
…et pret a manger dans les montagnes.

Fabry Family
He came from a family that enjoyed life, and enjoyed spending time together. The woman dressed in black is Vlado’s beloved grandmother.

Fabry Family 2
Here are the Fabrys looking fabulous on the promenade – is this Cannes?

Vlado Buick 2
And last of all, a collection of photos featuring Vlado’s Buick, which he loaned out to all his friends whenever they were in Geneva – causing a few disagreements over who used it more than others!

Vlado Buick 3

Vlado Buick 4

Vlado Buick

More questions than answers… *UPDATED

A few days ago, I came across a Swedish opinion piece concerning the UN Hammarskjold investigation, written by Tord Andersson; in which he says the “UD [Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs] already decided when the information reaches them not to demand a new investigation”, referring to an “email” published in DN (Dagens Nyheter) “where [UN] Swedish Ambassador receives orders to lie low and wait for the other States’ reactions [to the investigation].” Andersson asks “Why is no one responding?”

I wanted to see the DN article he was referring to, so I wrote to Andersson for the link, and he was kind to send it on to me, and to include the correction that “the reporter refers to internal UD-documents, not email”.

The article, “Sweden’s silence on new evidence amazes outside world”, written by Jens Littorin, reports that DN requested UD documents from the past year, from the time Carl Bildt was Minister of Foreign Affairs, and that these documents suggest that Sweden’s “silence” on the Hammarskjold investigation has been intentional.

From the DN article:

“A few weeks after the Commission presented its [September 2013] report…Swedish Ambassador Marten Grunditz [was given] instructions on the Swedish line from the UD’s management.”

The following are the “instructions” to Ambassador Grunditz, the 18 September 2013 UD document Andersson refers to, in the original Swedish, which Andersson says “lie low and wait for the other States’ reactions”:

“Vi avaktar hur man i FN-sekretariatet och i medlemskretsen staller sig till uppfoljning av rapporten. Om du hor nagra sadana tankar ar vi darfor intresserade av att ta del av dem. Dock utan att fran var sida driva fragan om en uppfoljning.” (DN’s kursivering)

I know I am missing the subtleties of the language, because I don’t speak Swedish, and this is what it says with Google Translate:

“We await how the UN Secretariat and the member agrees to the circuit response. If you hear any such thoughts, we are therefore interested in taking part of them. target but from our side push for a follow up. (DN’s emphasis)”

I did contact Journalist Jens Littorin to see if I could get help with a translation – to better understand the document emphasized, and to confirm the information I had, but there has been no response yet.

Also from the DN article – In February 2014, after S-G Ban Ki-moon’s official request that the investigation be included on the agenda of the 69th UN General Assembly, reporting to the UD on this new information, Ambassador Grunditz wrote that “if no Member States picks up the ball and seems to push, asking for a debate or put forward a draft resolution in the General Assembly, then the matter will probably stop after the Hammarskjold report has been circulated to the membership circle.”

“But the realization of the risks of inaction did not alter Sweden’s stance” writes Littorin, concluding that “It is now clear that Sweden has neither been pushing for a new UN investigation or taken a position on which line [it] should advocate.”

As I wrote in my previous post, a date has now been set for the morning of December 15, 2014 – Agenda Item 128 – to discuss the investigation into the death of Hammarskjold at the General Assembly. Charlotta Ozaki Macias, Head of Communications for the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD), “confirms [to DN] that Sweden, despite this [has] still not taken a position”, stating that “We want to wait and see what the other members say.”

When Macias was asked by Littorin if it was not “strange that Sweden was not more active in this matter”, when a “Swedish UN Secretary General and eight other Swedish citizens died in the plane crash”, she replied “We have had two inquiries and we have acted more than other countries”, and that she “explain[ed] that Sweden helped keep the issue alive by demanding that it should be moved to the current session”.

After thinking about this information, I am left with more questions than answers. Is it more than just the opinion of Andersson, or did UD leadership really advise Ambassador Grunditz to “lie low and wait” about the Hammarskjold investigation? And, if that is true, why? Why does Sweden wait, when Macias says “we have had two inquiries and we acted more than other countries” and “that Sweden helped keep the issue alive by demanding that it should be moved to the current session”? After all Sweden has done, now that there’s new evidence and it’s finally made it to the current session – by Sweden’s demand, why does it wait to take a position, to cross that threshold? Is it because they don’t want to bother anyone further? Or does Sweden not want to be bothered? Will they only stand up if there is interest from other member states, and only then? Or will they stand up at the last minute, if no one else will? Or will they not stand up at all? What does this silence communicate to the other member states?

I would like to mention here how very impressed I am with the new Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, who just assumed office on October 3, and I have great hopes she will give her support to this investigation. Only days after she took office, in response to criticism from the US on Stockholm’s recent decision to recognize Palestine as a state, Wallström said “It’s not the US that decides our politics” and that she expects to “get criticism”. We need that kind of spirit for forward motion to be made.

*Update 20 October 2014

Here is an English translation of the UD document from 18 September 2013, which Dagens Nyheter journalist Jens Littorin was very generous to contribute:

“We sit back and see how the UN-(office?) and the member states react to the report. If you hear any such thoughts it would be interesting if you could share them with us. BUT WITHOUT FROM OUR SIDE PUSHING THE QUESTION ABOUT A FOLLOW UP ON THE REPORT.”

I can understand now why that last sentence was emphasized.

Obviously – and unfortunately, it is not only Sweden that shows reluctance to stand up for Hammarskjold – so far, not a single member state has taken the initiative. From what I understand, if no one will take up this issue, Agenda Item 128 is considered only penciled in, and we won’t hear a word about this investigation on December 15 – that will be the end of it.

I hope the member states will consider this information, and take courage to do the right thing, in spite of whatever political interests might pressure them to do otherwise. It is not too late to stand up!

Dag Hammarskjöld & the 69th General Assembly

Good news! I’m a bit slow in getting this information out, but I just learned this week that a date has been set to discuss the death of Hammarskjöld at the 69th UN GA.

Agenda Item 128, “Investigation into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him”, will be the 12th matter to be discussed on the morning of December 15.

You can watch the meetings live on UN WEB TV.

More Photos from the U.N. Plebiscite to British Togoland, 1956

Here are some more photos that Vlado took, while acting as Observer to the United Nations Plebiscite to British Togoland in 1956; which includes some of the fantastic architecture he saw there.

(For greater detail, please click on photos to enlarge)

British Togoland Plebiscite 21

British Togoland Plebiscite 20

British Togoland Plebiscite 19

British Togoland Plebiscite 18

British Togoland Plebiscite 17

British Togoland Plebiscite 22

British Togoland Plebiscite 27

British Togoland Plebiscite 26

British Togoland Plebiscite 24

British Togoland Plebiscite 23

British Togoland Plebiscite 25

British Togoland Plebiscite 31

British Togoland Plebiscite 30

British Togoland Plebiscite 29

British Togoland Plebiscite 28

Before It Was Ghana: Photos from the U.N. Plebiscite in British Togoland, 1956

In 1956, Vladimir Fabry was assigned as Observer to the United Nations Plebiscite in British Togoland; which would vote to join the Gold Coast in May of that year, and on 6 March 1957, would become part of Ghana – the first African nation independent from colonial rule. Exciting, hopeful times for Africa, and Vlado was lucky to be there, to be a part of it.

The first three photos are from the UN photo collection, showing Vlado at work. The other photos are of the people Vlado met while he was there – the future independent people of Ghana. In two of the photos, you can see a man making Kente cloth on a loom – amazing!

(click on photos to enlarge)

Vlado and R West Skinn British Togoland May 56

Vlado British Togoland April 56

Vlado and Jan Van Wyck British Togoland April 56

British Togoland Plebiscite 1
British Togoland Plebiscite 2
British Togoland Plebiscite 3
British Togoland Plebiscite 4
British Togoland Plebiscite 5
British Togoland Plebiscite 6
British Togoland Plebiscite 7
British Togoland Plebiscite 8
British Togoland Plebiscite 9
British Togoland Plebiscite 10
British Togoland Plebiscite 11
British Togoland Plebiscite 12
British Togoland Plebiscite 13
British Togoland Plebiscite 14
British Togoland Plebiscite 15
British Togoland Plebiscite 16

Like Father, Like Son

Curve of Longing For Family
One thing I really admire about Pavel Fabry, is how affectionate he was in the letters he wrote to his family. Here is a little sketch of Pavel’s, with him in a hospital bed, a graph behind him that says in Slovak “Curve of Longing For Family”. The doctors are saying they have no cure for this “curve”, and Professor Fabry says he thinks a “Javaensis-Genevensis” tincture is what he needs. This was likely drawn during the late 40’s – early 50’s – when Vlado was working for Independence in Indonesia, Olinka and Maminka were refugees in Switzerland, and Pavel was in a hospital recovering from torture in a concentration camp, in the now former Czechoslovakia. Pavel’s sense of humor here shows he was living life on his terms, that he followed his convictions, and that he was willing to endure suffering for a just cause – a true romantic.

Fall in Love and Lose Weight
Then there are times when I am a little annoyed with him, like with this undated letter, sent to Vlado around the time he was working on the Suez Canal Clearance project in 1957, most likely before the project was finished. Pavel is telling him that he has to lose weight in two weeks, before their family vacation together (which would end with Vlado coming down with Hepatitis, and the weight loss that came with his illness). Then he says with all the tempting food of the Norwegians, Swedes, Canadians and Indians in the desert, that he would have to ride a horse at full gallop all day just to keep fit. He gives Vlado the advice to fall in love to lose weight, but not too happily, so he doesn’t fall apart at the end of it. Really, as if Vlado didn’t have enough to worry about, he has his father telling him he is too fat and needs to go on a diet! He is right though, that falling in love is great for weight loss, but he must have thought Vlado had some kind of superpowers to find a girl to fall in love with on the spot!

If Vlado was a romantic, it was because Pavel set quite an example for him. Romance was never far from Pavel’s mind, as can be seen in this little boudoir sketch (click to enlarge):
Pavel boudoir sketch
What is she whispering in his ear, I wonder?

Sometimes, thoughts of love and food were in competition, like in his surreal sketch of a fish woman:
Pavel La Peche

Keeping to the subject of romance, in another post, we read the love letters of Vlado and Mary Liz, with the last letter written in September 1957. There are no more love letters written by Vlado after that, but I found a portion of a Mr. America magazine, from January 1958, with a cover banner that reads “USE YOUR SEX URGE FOR BUILDING A HANDSOME BODY”:
Mr. America Jan. '58

Who knows if Vlado was trying to control his “urge”, or what, but romance may have been distracting him from larger goals in his life. I think Pavel was not much different than Maminka, in that he wanted Vlado to find a nice girl to marry – but I also think he took vicarious pleasure in hearing about Vlado’s carefree romantic life as a bachelor.

Vlado left some heart-sick women in his wake, as is shown in this last letter from 1959, written by a woman who wasn’t over Vlado at all, and whose impending marriage brought to mind funerals and drowning. This letter is more a distress call than anything else, which makes it a very funny read!

March 4, 1959

Dear Vlado,

Now it looks as if I may be in NY at last, but for the most unexpected of reasons – on a honeymoon! Probably, April 12-25.

I’ve been so interested to notice in how many ways marriage is like death! First, probably the only reason so barbarous a rite as a wedding has lasted so long in our streamlined society is probably the same reason the funeral has – i.e. sociologists say that all the transactions involved in planning a funeral take the bereaved’s mind out of the depths & the same goes for the bride, bereaved of her freedom!

Marrying is also like drowning in that you suddenly relive your past – at least your past loves & all my former boyfriends have come parading their images across my minds eye – & I must say, Vlado, that as I go through my card file, choosing addresses to send announcements to, each card brings up a little doubt, but the most difficult card to process was yours! Isn’t that funny, because I had dated other boys a lot more than you & I was just as inflamed over them.

It’s just that when I think of me settling down to air force protocol (he’s in for 10 more years!) I think of your verve; & when I think of those forever churning conversation on the base about TDY’s, PFR’s, ER reports etc., I dream of the day you, Otto & I went to the woods and captured those flagstones in such a unique way!

When I ask my 3 F’s (friends, family, fiance) what they would think of my sort of going to NY to get my trousseau & choose my silver pattern & all, they retort “and get that Czech at the U.N. out of your system? You’d never come back.” I shall always wonder if I couldn’t have made you come crawling & writhing out of your shell (if there’d been time) like a tortoise does when the Indians tie him above the fire so he will squirm into the soup pot! But my fiance says I’d better marry him without travelling to NY, because regrets are better than despair….

This stationary is a memento from our bi-family conclave to plan the bash (it will be April 11 at the ——City Community Christian Church – I dare you to come & stand up when the preacher asks “If there be anyone who denies that they should be married…”). His family is from Texarkana, long time friends of my folks, but we conclaved on neutral ground – in Fayetteville!

I do hope some sort of wife won’t open this letter, although I’m sure she would be understanding; otherwise she couldn’t have married you! But just in case I wish there was something I could say which would make me sure you’d know who sent the letter, so I wouldn’t have to sign my name, but I have a strong suspicion that you’ve taken many a girl hiking in the rain, driven her to help her pack on Bank Street – & even many admirers have sent you wooden pigs & sustenance pills when you were in Africa! So I’ll just have to say,

so long,


Letter From Pavel To Vlado, 28 May 1946

Here is a very special letter, written by Pavel Fabry to his son Vlado, when he learned that Vlado was leaving for the U.S. to join the United Nations Secretariat, in 1946. My sincere gratitude to the friends who translated this for me.

Zurich 28/V/946

Our Dear Vladinko,

It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life when I read your [one word cannot be deciphered] telegram. I don’t know if it was so constructed that even I could understand it – but I think it was God’s blessing that made it possible for me to understand it word for word.

I know that one of Maminka’s eyes was tearing with pleasure and the other with the worries of a mother (but I know she will carry even this sacrifice for you thankfully) – when I conveyed the telegram to her over the phone.

And throughout my trip in the heights of the airplane I was thinking of you – for in a few weeks you too will be flying…and not into the unknown.

The entire world is opening up for you in the real sense of the word. I have been in my room for only a few minutes and already am grabbing a pen, so that at least this way you can feel how warmly I hug you and bless your future journey.

Perhaps it is The Almighty’s way of rewarding you for having been such a good son to us, that so far you have followed the course of life that made us proud and that he wants to reward us for all the parental love and worries which we have always and at every step shown toward you, just as to our other child, Olicka!

Vladinko dearest! Cherish this gift – it being merely one link in the chain of your life, which was wrought by a lot of hard work.

And I beg you – while you are still at home, donate as much time as possible to your dearest Mother (who donated the biggest part of her life to you). She first of all deserves it in full measure.

Hopefully God will help to make it possible for her to visit you in your new lovely position – even with Olicka!

I pray that The Almighty bless your journey and keep you in good health and strength – for the honor and glory of your nation – and for our parental happiness.

With kisses for you from your Tatusko

Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 1
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 2
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 3
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 4
Pavel letter to Vlado 1946 5

And here are three more documents pertaining to Vlado’s appointment with the United Nations: A confirmation letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague; an application for a non-immigrant visa from the American Embassy in Prague; and last, the letter of appointment from the United Nations, signed by Trygve Lie.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs UN confirmation 1946

American Foreign Service visa application 1946

Vlado UN letter of appointment